Every year before January 1st rolls around, we make promises to better ourselves for the new year. However, if you're like most people, you may have already broken resolutions that perhaps were not that realistic to begin with.
It also does not help anyone - from exercise novice to marathon runner - that every January we are bombarded with health advice, nutrition suggestions and tips for new workout routines, all aimed at helping us improve for the coming year.
Fitness contributor and personal trainer Megan Shemanske says that one of the most common reasons we fail at keeping our resolutions is because they are not tailored for our everyday lives.
"A lot of resolutions are made in a perfect world...Real life is extremely messy and complicated and unpredictable," she says. "So being able to be flexible and honest in the context of your human life is really good place to start so you don’t have this ‘all or none’ mentality."
Instead of setting a resolution to simply 'lose 50 pounds' or 'eat healthier,' you should instead, she says, be making resolutions that are both reasonable and measurable.
Shemanske offers some tips and suggestions to help make resolutions that work in real life:
S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Action Goals vs. Outcome Goals)
- Specific: Create an objective goal. "If a goal is generic, it's just kind of out there. There's no sense of urgency, no action plan, you don't know if it's been achieved or not. So the more specific you can be with the who, what, where, why - the more successful you will be in the long run," says Shemanske.
- Example: Change 'I want to lose weight' to 'I want to lose 10 lbs by April 1st.'
- Measurable: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress. "Progress is very motivating. So if you know what you're working towards and you actually see those numbers...the more you see it, the more you want to do it," she says.
- Attainable/Accountable: "The more people and things that are holding you accountable, the more successful you will be," Shemanske says.
- How and who is holding you accountable and following up on your progress? Personal trainer? Spouse? FitBit?
- Realistic & Relevant: "Are you setting yourself a goal that you are able to get to? Or is it out of reach and you are setting yourself up for failure?," she says. "You want it to be challenging, yet attainable."
- Timely: "Timely creates that sense of urgency. Without it, you're going to put it off until tomorrow, until next week...Having an end point and having a measurable outcome, you can keep track of your progress," Shemanske says.
- Try to set deadlines, dates, and frequency for your new goals.
5 REASONABLE RESOLUTIONS
1. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day - but work up to it!
"Take into account where you're currently at," says Shemanske. "If your goal is 100 ounces and you're only drinking 25, tomorrow maybe your goal is to drink 50 and you start building on that."
- Water makes us 85% of your brain, 80% of your blood and 70% of your lean muscle
- You cannot get hydration from water without water! Coffee, tea, alcohol and soft drinks only steal water from the body
- Dehydration is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue
- Water naturally suppresses the appetite
- Regulates the body's cooling system and is required for proper digestion and nutrient absorption
2. Take 10,000 steps per day (approximately 5 miles)
"A lot of us have jobs where you're sitting at desks and not moving that often. It's a constant reminder to get up and move and walk around. And if you have an active lifestyle, this is going to help you reach your goals whether you're actively at the gym or not," she says.
- Promotes an active lifestyle, even if you don't go to the gym
- FREE and SIMPLE
- Wearable technology (such as a Fitbit) can help you reach this goal
3-4. Eat protein with every meal and snack and eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking up
"Your body is a fireplace and it wants to burn fuel," says Shemanske. "There's two different types of fuel that you can put in your body - a log (protein source) or a newspaper (carbohydrates)...If you throw a newspaper in a fireplace it burns up quick and then you need to throw another one in, and then it dies out. You end up with this roller coaster of energy just trying to keep that fireplace going. So yes, it is your chocolates, your pretzels, all things like that, but it's also your healthy carbohydrates - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, which are all a necessary part of your diet."
5. Allow time for repair and recovery
- Adequate sleep - "The more sleep deprived you are, the more stress your body is under and effects those hormones that are going to hang on to that added weight your body is trying to get rid of...If you're not getting enough sleep your body is not naturally repairing itself."
- Time to reflect
- Meditation - You don't need a yoga room to practice the kind of meditation that is right for you. Simply go for a walk, sit in a quiet room for five minutes, or something that brings you a sense of calm and time to think.
- Stretching, massage, foam rolling
- Disconnecting from technology
- Practice one act of gratitude daily